How many people do you actually know personally who are raising their children to be overtly cruel, exploitive, cold hearted pragmatists? How many of your close friends, in quiet moments of reflection, perhaps after a shared meal, have casually disclosed:” you know I could care less about other people and their suffering. Let their children starve. Do you want to split a dessert”? What parent pridefully discloses that they have managed to get their children into an upscale summer camp to build skills for bullying the vulnerable members of society? My guess is few to none of you have run into such a heartless, cold sense-of-good in your own circle.
The bottom line assumption of The Good Decision is that in a quiet room within yourself, when the rest of the world is briefly set aside, you care about yourself and other human beings. If the truly uncaring people were gathered into one political party, and the rest of the nation was the second political party, the genuinely uncaring would lose every election by an overwhelming amount. Yet, we live in a political culture where at any given moment, 49 % of the population seems to think the other 51% belong to the category of uncaring if not simply ignorant. And yet, in the direct experience of communities, families, friends and colleagues, we find that weird and dangerous perception not to ring true. How does this happen?
We all tend to make decisions out of a blend of what we feel is good and our present-moment rendition of personal identity. For the healthy person, the two are linked together with various degrees of always imperfect integrity. These two components of our personality, the sense of good and identity, can become untethered. Identity, powerful as it is, is less organic than the deeper sense-of-good. Healthy guilt arises in us when we violate what we feel and think to be good. The feelings that ensue when we violate our sense of goodness are not good . We call these ‘not good feelings’ moral distress. True identity, however, serves as a social reinforcement as well as guidance for the more organic body based sense-of-good. Violations of our personal rules of identity run us into the risk of social loss or isolation although not necessarily moral distress. Identity is more cognitive or mind based. Identity is the deeply personal creed that grows out of faith in goodness. Despite the near religious terminology, a creed is a kind of belief script that applies both to the sacred and the secular.
In times of conflict and war, skillful manipulators can hijack your private connection to your identity for purely political purposes . This ploy is very effective in separating people’s identity from their sense-of-good. Once the hijacking is complete, people can make decisions out of creed without reference to the deeper sense-of-good. Which brings us to the times we are in. “We the People” seem to have had our identity stolen for political purposes. We have become a nation of ‘10,000’ identities with apparently so little in common.
The Good Decision Project is a personal discipline designed to help you prevent this form of ‘identity theft’. In this age, getting back to true personal identity is like seeking stream access to fish in a privatized world. Our national democratic culture is committed to preserving both the private realms of life (personal and community good) and the public realm (government and public service). The separation of church and state was never intended as an anti-religious stance on life. The separation was and is intended to protect the private realms of life and prevent a religious autocracy of any creed or morality from invading private identity. The shattering of our national identity is a symptom of the disease the Constitutional separation was intended to prevent. A national religion of any kind or creed is a terminal event for the idea of democracy. Hijacking, insulating, and finally exploiting personal identity has become a political and commercial high art in a culture that once was committed to protecting the rights of individual identity in the common struggle for E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one). Our best qualities as human beings regardless of race, color, religion, gender, are being suppressed. These postings and the The Good Decision sequence simply want to assist us in restoring faith in ourselves, neighbors, and larger communities while preserving the skills necessary for democracy to survive and thrive.